“We are convinced that through the FlixBus network we can attract the passenger numbers needed to ensure a sustainable operation of the Locomore routes even at low ticket prices.”
Just three months after announcing itself insolvent, the German open access rail operator Locomore, that used crowdfunding as a way to fill funding gaps, is to be rescued from closure by a bus-rail consortium. FlixBus and Leo Express will combine resources to bring passenger services between Berlin and Stuttgart back to life. Leo Express will take charge of running the trains while FlixBus, which was set up following the deregulation of the German bus market, will sell tickets using its website and other sales channels.
In what was a world-first first for the rail industry, the rail line used that began life in October 2016 used crowdfunding as a way to provide long distance passenger services but it was suspended on 2 August after passenger numbers and revenue did not grow fast enough to make it cost-effective.
The latest deal between FlixBus and fellow open access operator Leo Express operator, which runs services in Czech Republic, will now mean passengers will be able to use FlixBus’s website to book journeys on the 12-station line in much the same way as UK operator Stagecoach does for its Megabus network. Megatrain was set up in 2005 to allow the purchase of low-cost ticket, off-peak tickets on a limited network between London and surrounding towns and cities in England.
Speaking on the latest deal, Flixbus managing director Andre Schwaemmlein, said: “We are convinced that through the FlixBus network we can attract the passenger numbers needed to ensure a sustainable operation of the Locomore routes even at low ticket prices.”
When it was launched two years ago, Locomore focused on its sustainable credentials that included running on green power, using braking energy restitution and providing organic and fairtrade on-board catering – an area of business that proved attractive to FlixBus.
“We believe in Locomore and the fact that mobility on the rail does not have to be expensive. At the same time, we are looking forward to the perfect addition to our green long-distance network,” said a statement on the bus company’s website.
Before it entered financial difficulty in May this year, Locomore, which was set up as an alternative to Deutsche Bahn trains, used refurbished 1970’s trains that were covered in a distinctive orange livery which will continue to be used.
In a bid to whip up interest for the rescued line, FlixBus said it would be offering tickets between Berlin and Stuttgart from just under €10, with shorter journeys available for half that amount.
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